Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Welcome back 37512

The latest remarkable Colas Rail class 37 resurrection occurred in June 2018 with 37521 being restored to the active pool of locomotives rostered for Network Rail infrastructure monitoring trains. The locomotive, owned by HNRC and leased to Colas Rail enjoyed its final fling working for EWS back in 2004 during the autumn 'leaf busting' season working trains in and around Yorkshire. It was one of the few 'freight' 37's I was lucky enough to capture in my early days of the hobby with a camera who's results were varied at best! Having been off the mainline for over 13 years it's certainly great to see and hear the overhauled 37521 back on the national network!

Above 37521 'English China Clays' is seen bringing a RHTT set through Doncaster on 28th October 2004. 37516 in LoadHaul colours is on the rear of the train. Incidentally 37516 is another survivor and continues to see use on the mainline with West Coast Railways!

Below, 37521 13 1/2 years later approaching Basingstoke on 29th June 2018 working 3Z80 from Hither Green - Hither Green via Eastleigh.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Swanage Diesel Gala 2018

33012 arrives into Clapham Junction with the 'Purbeck Explorer' tour taking the LT 4TC to Swanage. 18/05/2018
The May diesel gala at the Swanage Railway is seen by many as a highlight of the year's gala season, and one of the few which I regularly try to attend. This year I was unfortunately only able to make it down to the south coast for the Thursday 'preview day' evening before shooting back towards London for work. My journey down to Swanage was probably the reason that it was worth making the effort for just a few trips on the railway- a mainline train right through from London to Swanage.

As part of the gala additional coaches were being hired in the form of London Transport's 4TC which is based at Ruislip. In order to get the main line registered TC down to the railway the novel decision was made to run a railtour both before and after the gala. Before the gala it would be headed by the Swanage Railway's main line registered D6515 (33012) and the return would be in the hands of 20007 and 20142. As a fan of all things Southern Region I simply couldn't resist the opportunity to take a 33 and TC down the South West Mainline onto their former stomping ground west of Bournemouth. OK- it wasn't a 33/1 with the necessary pipes to work in multiple with the TC, but it was pretty damn close. LT's 4TC is fitted with central door locking and window bars enabling it to operate unhindered on the national network. It was certainly a bit of a surreal feeling to watch the train come to a stand at Clapham Junction, open the slam door, board and the enjoy the satisfying 'clunk' as I closed the door behind me. Settling in to my NSE upholstered compartment it was a most enjoyable journey down to Dorset.

Once on the Swanage railway there was time to enjoy a few rides with the diesels operating that afternoon, the highlight of which was 'Hymek' D7017 which was looking superb! Also sampled during the evening were 73133 and 73136 together with the steam diagram being worked by 34053 'Sir Keith Park'.

Altogether a great afternoon down on the Swanage Railway- I just wish I could have stayed for a bit more of the weekend!

Details of the progress of the Swanage Railway's own 4TC which will be used on the line following restoration can be found here.

The LT 4TC leads a push/pull formation powered by class 73's into Corfe Castle. The Swanage Railway is currently part way through restoring its own 4TC set which will run on the line once completed. 18/05/2018

Friday, 1 June 2018

Dampfspektakel in Trier

Pacific's passing on the mainline 1075 passes 202 at Merzig on the Monday of the Damflokspectakle. 30/04/2018

Sunday April 29-
My arrival in Trier is greeted with 52 8154. Trier Hbf 29/04
While I had been aware of the Dampfspektakel for some months there was a little barrier in the way of my attendance. I had to be on stage the night of Saturday 28th April with an after-show party to follow. This didn't fit in well with the German steam, however upon reading the Dampfspektakel document a few weeks before it really did sound good- so a plan was hatched.
A bit desperate maybe, but there I was post-after-show-party standing on the platform at East Croydon at shortly after 03:00 ready to board the 03:36 Southern service to London Bridge. It was all starting to go wrong before it had even started with the train marked as 'Delayed' and no sign of the 02:49 either. Thankfully after a bit of confusion a train arrived for London only about 15 minutes late. I had plenty of time to walk to Liverpool Street for the 05:00 rail replacement bus to Stanstead Airport. I'm glad a arrived a little early as there was already quite a queue for the airport rail replacement bus, once on board however I was finally able to get a tiny bit of sleep as we headed up the M11.
52 1360 passes Ehrang with the 14:14 Trier - Wittich. 29/04/2018
My flight was at 07:30 to Frankfurt Hahn- an airport I had once travelled to before and vowed never to set foot in again. 'Frankfurt' Hahn is a 2 hour express coach away from Frankfurt however it is one of the nearest airports to Trier (only 1 1/2 hours by coach!). Once I had eventually cleared security (my bag went the wrong way) the flight was uneventful as was the well timed and pre-booked coach on to Trier. As expected at about 12:30 I was at Trier Hbf, it had just started to rain and there were no steam departures for the next hour. Never mind- time to walk to my hostel, check my bag in and freshen up. I had a private room however it was too early to check in so I left my bag, made my way back to the station and also checked in with my friends who were already out at the lineside. After buying my bargain 1 day 1 zone ticket I made my way to Ehrang to meet the group. There were a number of steam trains booked through in succession and I got my first taste of the Dampfspektakel with the tank 78 468 passing through at speed and under power- certainly a fine sight. Unfortunately things went a little downhill from here with several uninspiring passes in poor light, followed by one train failing to turn up at all- that was of course until we had retreated into a bar to complain about our poor luck when it then steamed past!
78 468 makes a fine sight passing the unloved station at Ehrang working from Gerolstein to Trier - 29/04/2018
52 8154 Passes Ehrang on Sunday afternoon bound for Trier.
Unfortunately this, combined with the reduced local Sunday train service now limited our plans to ride trains for the remainder of the afternoon. A good call was made and we headed to Merzig to pick up V200 033 for it's afternoon back into Trier. I had a good 30 minutes to catch up on some sleep which was very much needed by this point. We then enjoyed a splash of sunshine and a very enjoyable run behind the Warship back to Trier. The only problem was not being able to get any decent photos!
Back at Trier I had still not ridden a Dampflok! There were two options to rectify this and we headed to Schweich to pick up 52 8154 for a short run back to Trier (the Luxembourg would be covered on Monday).
It would be fair to say I was pretty exhausted by this point so I was quite happy to just go for a kebab for dinner before leaving the rest of the group and retreating for some much needed sleep!

V200 033 departs ECS from Trier after arrival form Merzig.
Sunday Heritage Moves:
V200 033 17:55 Merzig - Trier
52 8154 19:49 Schweich - Trier

Monday April 30-
103 113 crosses the Mosel near Pfalzel with the 08:09 Trier - Brohl conveying passengers for their day out on the
BrholBahn which would feature haulage from the lines Mallet locomotive. 30/04/2018

Monday was the 'lull' day of the event - neither a weekend or a bank holiday there were only a limited number of steam specials running. Rather than joining the world and his wife on the scrum to the Brohlbahn (103 113 wasn't required anyway) I chose to spend my time closer to Trier on the line to Saarbrucken which still had it's steam service. First I got myself up at a not too early hour to photograph the electric heading up to Koblenz with the masses for the Brohl. I arrived at my spot in lovely sunshine, but by the time the train had arrived the scene was of course completely different. Back at Trier I grabbed some breakfast, obviously getting stuck in the stupidly long checkout queues behind a man buying 15 pineapples, 24 cucumbers and various other fruit and veg - I can only presume he was having a party, or perhaps owns a restaurant.
The first move was to cover the complete line from Trier to Saarbrucken behind 'Pacific' 03 1010. The run was reasonable but suffered from the issue of most trains at the event- a very powerful locomotive with a light load, low speed and little in the way of gradient. Leaning out to enjoy the limited sound was further complicated by the fact that I had forgotten my 'spotting' sunglasses.
CentralBahn 110 278 is a suprise extra attraction at
Volklingen with an excursion train. 30/04/2018
I can't say Saarbrucken is a scenic station but I didn't have long here as I was heading straight back on a unit to Merzig to pick up the next steam heading down the line. This proved to be a very good move- not only did I have some company with a group I had met on the first train, but this move also put us on to 01 202 - which turned out to be a beast of a loco and one of very few at the event making a decent bit of noise!
It was a shame to leave 202 at Volklingen but there was a nice photo with the backdrop of the steelworks (and a bonus in the appearance of 110 xxx on an excursion). A few minutes later 03 1010 pulled back in and I completed my first 'Pacific for Pacific' move. This loco was taken back to Trier where there was actually time to head into town to get some food before the next steam departure with 01 1075 in the early afternoon. The Dutch loco was once again on the quiet side but through late running did provide a wonderful spectacle of passing 01 202 at Merzig, and also completed my second 'Pacific for Pacific' move!
Back at Trier it was then time to use a local unit to facilitate a lineside shot at the quarry around half way down the line. There were certainly a few photographers gathered here and it shouldn't have been a huge surprise when my friend Jasper from The Netherlands showed up with his group. After the loco shut off and we got a cloudy photo Jasper kindly invited me to join his friends on the chase, achieving one more photo of the loco. Good fun and a good (if brief) catch up.
Back in Trier it was time to think about food and I had another couple of friends to meet tonight from my own model railway society who were also in town for the event and had been up to the Brohlbahn for the day. Unfortunately by this point the heavens had opened and all the restaurants in central Trier were full!!! After a little searching we found one that wasn't full... but also wasn't serving. Finally we ended up in a Chinese and pretty decent it was too. Next across the road to a bar to re-unit with the friends I was actually supposed to be with for a beer or two or three... I think it was two?

Not the light or smoke effects I was hoping for as 01 1075 rounds the corner 
past the quarry at Taben with the 17:43 Saarbruken - Trier. 30/04/2018. 
Monday Heritage Moves:
03 1010 08:50 Trier - Saarbrucken
01 202 11:24 Merzig - Volklingen
03 1010 12:01 Volklingen - Trier
01 1075 14:41 Trier - Merzig
01 202 15:38 Merzig - Trier

Tuesday May 1st-
4-6-4t Tank loco 78 468 makes a great display climbing out of Bitburg on the route to Gerolstein. 30/04/2018

Parallel departure with 03 1010 and 52 8154
03 1010 enjoys a rare patch of sunshine on the morning of
Tuesday 1 May as it departs Konz for Saarbrucken. 

With a public holiday firmly in force steam was back up to full strength on the lines around Trier. I still had a lot of gaps to fill but first there was the spectacle of the early morning parallel departure. This was very well executed and quite a joy to travel on- and the sun came out! Once the two trains had parted ways I made a swift move back to Trier for what was one of my highlights of the event - an uphill run on the lovely line towards Gerolstein behind the equally lovely 78 468 tank, and in the company of my new friends from yesterday. This certainly made a nice sound heading up grade- and also made a nice photo departing from Bitburg. It wasn't long to wait for a Kreigslok 52 8195 back down to Trier. Next time to catch up with our groups favourite- 01 202, and another nice run we had with it as well out via the currently freight only route via Trier West. While we could have continued up to Bitburg again we decided to wait out our return train at Daufenbach where we knew we could get a beer and a bratwurst. Except for a little issue where I ended up with a non-alcoholic Dunkel Beer all was well and the stall seemed well pleased with the business- now if only it was sunny!
78 468 arrives into Daufenbach with the 12:25 from
Gerolstein to Trier. 01/05/2018
78 468 arrived for the run back to Trier having been turned at Gerolstein. Next was a slightly risky move to score my last Kreigslok of the event and also the route to Nenning which I had not yet covered. This involved taking 52 1360 up to Schweich for a +3 connection on to 52 8154 back through Trier and on to Nenning. My friends on the train were adamant that it would probably not work and the most likely outcome was getting stranded at Schweich- however I went with it and despite a slightly late arrival on 52 1360 the connection held (just) with just me and another brit (I don't think we quite outnumbered the Germans but it must have been close!) making it onto 52 8154.
CFL 5519 wait for departure with the 18:17 Trier - Luxembourg. 01/05/2018
E10 1239 arrives into Schweich with the 17:20 Wittlich - Trier. 01/04/2018
After the trip down to Nenning (which it turns out is a non-descript station pretty near to nowhere) and back, enjoying the views across the river Mosel to Luxembourg it was time to make another quick dash up to Schweich to pick up E10 1239, my first class 110, which works back from Wittlich. This was due to be Diesel V211 041 however since failing earlier in the week it had been covered by the 110. The loco certainly looks splendid and got me back to Trier in plenty of time to pick up the very last steam hauled train of the festival, the 18:17 to Luxembourg with CFL 5519.
01 202 departs from Daufenbach with the 11:18 Trier - Gerolstein. 01/04/2018
I picked my bag up from the station lockers and even the sun made an appearance before our departure. Everything was set for a really good run but 5519 simply never got going. I heard there may have been some sort of 30kph restriction on the loco- certainly it took the full booked 1 hour 55 minutes to reach Luxembourg, a journey of just 51km including a 30 minute stop at the border station Wasserbillig. It was a bit of a disappointing end to the steam, but it did get me into Luxembourg, a new country which I will have to visit properly, in time to get the bus to the airport for my 21:45 Ryanair flight back to London Stanstead which had cost a stupid sum of roughly £11! Certainly the steam/bus/plane move was tight, but it worked and drew to a close an entertaining couple of days. I can't say I was looking forward to being back in the office for an early turn in the morning though!

01 1075 passes a typical vinyard scene along the
banks of the river Saar. 30/04/2018
Overall a great event, which would have been even better if the trains had been a bit longer and the locos had had to work a bit harder- oh, and had the weather not been so bad for so much of it! Photography was tricky - both due to the aforementioned weather and the fact that when split between the various routes there were few locations with more than a few good train passes each day and long gaps between them. Despite what the literature said you really couldn't do much chasing of the trains without a car. Another difficulty was that many of the stations where the trains did stop the loco's would pull too far forward. I won't even start on the situation at Trier itself which was dire for photography and certainly not helped by the security staff, taped off platform ends an the throngs of people all vying for their less than average photos! Either way it was great to meet so many sociable enthusiasts both those who I already knew and those who I met on my travels. My visit may have been brief but it was certainly worthwhile.

78 468 is passed by Kreigslok 52 8195 at Trier Hbf. 01/05/2018

Tuesday heritage moves:
03 1010 07:59 Trier - Konz
78 468 08:45 Trier - Bitburg Erdorf
52 8195 10:59 Bitburg Erdorf - Trier
01 202 11:18 Trier - Daufenbach
78 468 13:29 Daufenbach - Trier
52 1360 14:14 Trier - Schweich
52 8154 14:30 Schweich - Nenning
52 8154 16:10 Nenning - Trier
E10 1239 17:47 Schweich - Trier
CFL 5519 18:17 Trier - Luxembourg

Reflecting on a great couple of days as CFL 5519 steams into Luxembourg.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Our Last Summer - HST's on the Devon Seawall

To commemorate the role played by the HST GWR have re-liveried two examples into past liveries, 43002 seen here skirting the sea wall at Teignmouth being named 'Sir Kenneth Grange' after the train's designer wears the original 'Flying Banana' Blue/Grey livery while 43185 has been adorned with the 'InterCity Swallow' scheme. 43002 is seen here leading the 07:27 London Paddington - Plymouth on a fine 5th May 2018.
43091 brings up the rear of a London bound HST lead by 43133 heading
along the seawall at Teignmouth towards Dawlish and Exeter. 5/5/2018

The InterCity 125 entered squadron service in 1976, and while it upset many rail fans at the time by displacing older loco classes the trains have become a classic in their own right. For over 40 years these trains have connected the major cities of the UK in comfort and style. Widely acclaimed with rescuing BR's long distance services the HST (High Speed Train) has been at the front line of InterCity passenger travel ever since, regularly attaining it's top design speed of 125mph.

43180 leads its HST towards Teignmouth with a service to the west country.
43144 is on the rear of the train which has just emerged from Parsons tunnel.

Officially the class 43 powercar is still the worlds fastest diesel train having attained a record speed of 148mph under test conditions. In 2018 however a large proportion of the front line HST duties will be relinquished to the new InterCityExpress trains being built by Hitachi. Class 800's have already taken many of the HST's duties out of London Paddington with deliveries continuing. ECML duties will commence with IEP later this year while the West Country routes to Devon and Cornwall have already seen testing with a class 802 IEP, which will be provided with larger diesel engines to cope with the challenging Devon banks on this route.
One of the 'classic' views, from the footbridge on the Dawlish sea wall- 43024 leads 43005 heading West. 5/5/2018

One of the Green GWR liveried power cars, 43041 leads
43086 with a London bound service. The town of Dawlish can
be seen in the background, including the section of sea wall
destroyed by storms in 2004 which severed Cornwall from
the national network for many weeks. 5/5/2018
2018 therefore is the swansong of the HST on many of the routes it has been familiar with over the last 40 years. One of the most spectacular of these railways is undoubtedly the South Devon Mainline between Exeter and Newton Abbot where Brunels railway skirts the Exe Estuary before running along the Atlantic Coast sea wall at Dawlish and Teignmouth before once again turning inland and following the estuary of the River Teign up to Newton Abbot. This is was a challenging section of railway to build, and as seen in recent years is increasingly difficult to maintain.
Cross Countries 43384 leads 43301 on 1V52 from Glasgow to Paignton.

Even from it's inception the line has had difficulties- initially with the futuristic propulsion method proposed by Brunell with his 'Atmospheric Railway'- using a vacuum in a tube to power trains. The system used a series of stationary engines to pump a vacuum into a tube into which the trains connected through a leather strip. The system lasted barely a year with constant problems with the leather seal caused by the salt sea water and the railway being constantly battered by the elements. Today all that remains of the Atmospheric Railway is one of the original pumphouses at Starcross, and, of course the GWR railway alignment along the troublesome coast and up and over the steep Devon banks.
Another classic sea wall location as 43010 parts with the Atlantic at Teignmouth on the rear of the 07:27 from Paddington.

While the legacy of Brunel's South Devon Railway may be a headache for Network Rail who now must maintain it, the views it offers to passengers are simply stunning- and there is no better way to enjoy them than from an open window on an HST.
Enjoying the sea wall from a Cross Country HST. 5/5/2018
While HST's will shortly disappear from Great Western Railway InterCity services along the sea wall this is not the end altogether for these trains. 11 Short HST's with four or five coaches are being retained by GWR for local services between Cardiff and Penzance- these will be fully refurbished and fitted with automatic doors. Similarly Cross Country will retain its small fleet of five HST's which work the South West - Scotland axis. As for the displaced HST's from GWR- the majority of the fleet will be refurbished and make their way to Scotland where they will begin a new chapter in their history providing rapid and comfortable links between Scotland's largest cities.

Looking down from up above, 43092 is at the head of the 1C85 14:03 London Paddington - Penzance as it skirts the sea wall at Dawlish. 43164 was on the rear of the train. 5/5/2018

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

From the Archives- Last Scheduled 'Thumpers' 24th September 2004

205028 awaits departure from London Bridge with the 18:12 to Uckfield. 205032 was on the rear. The scene has changed somewhat in the intervening 13 years with the trains replaced and the station entirely re-built. 24/09/2004

A conversation at work in the last week turned to 'Thumpers' - the SR DEMU's which plied non-electrified lines from the late 1950's right up until the mid-2000's.
205001 on the blocks of platform 11 with stock for the 17:10 to Uckfield.
4-VOP 3917 occupies platform 10. 24/09/2004.
I caught only the very end of these distinctive units mainline careers; discovering them on one of my early outings in 2003. I went for a run on the two routes which were by this time the final stomping ground of the class 205 and 207, Oxted - Uckfield and Hastings - Ashford. As well as these fairly rural services (which were some way from home) there were two workings each weekday peak into or out of London. Due to the price of a peak travelcard (a large consideration back then, even on child fares!) I never covered the inbound runs from Uckfield to London, however the evening runs, the 17:10 London Bridge - Uckfield and the 18:02 Victoria - Uckfield (Later 18:12 London Bridge - Uckfield) became a regular way to spend my evening.
Guards accommodation on 205009.
I missed plenty of other trains in the process- but quite frankly at 17:00 on a weekday if I was out there was only one place I would be and that was at the end of the high level platforms at London Bridge waiting for the inbound 'Thumper' ECS.

Friday 24th September 2004 wasn't a normal day for the Thumpers. Or in many ways it was. This was the *last* normal day for the Thumpers out of London. From the following Monday the new class 170 'Turbostars' would take over the peak trains, having already replaced the Thumpers on the branches. This was the last booked day of the Thumpers- and I wasn't going to miss it.

205009 at East Croydon with the 17:10 London Bridge - Uckfield. 24/09/2004
I headed up to London Bridge after school and by the time I arrived and met my friends the ECS for the 17:10 to Uckfield was already sitting under the LB&SCR Roof on platform 11 formed of 205001 and 205009. Both the London peak trains were booked to be formed of 6 coaches, but regularly turned up as 5 car formations (and occasionally a very cosy 4!). 205001 was one of the 2-car units technically dedicated to the branch duties. The train was formed up with the 'triangle end' power car of 205001 at the buffers and the power car of 205009 the same way round, with the non-powered trailer leading. The train was even busier than normal with enthusiasts who had come to say goodbye to the ancient DMU's so we ended up travelling in the guards van of 205009.

4-VEP 3403 at East Croydon shortly after departure of the first Uckfield Thumpers with a service to East Grinstead. 24/09/04

Far from the best photo I have ever taken- 205032 at Uckfield following
arrival with the last scheduled service from London Bridge. 24/09/2004.
At East Croydon, as was usual, we left the Uckfield train. Something must have gone wrong at this point as it was usually possible to take a 'Slammer' back to London Bridge (often a VEP via Crystal Palace if memory serves me correctly) to make the 18:12 departure, but on this occasion my photos reveal we travelled on a 455, possibly to make sure we didn't miss what could have been the very last train. Whatever the reason for the 455 we overtook the ECS stock at Norwood Junction and arrived into London Bridge in plenty of time to see 205032 and 205028 arrive for the 18:12 to Uckfield. This train used platform 9 and before long (and after taking many appallingly blurred photos!) we boarded the power car, both of which were in the middle, of 205028 for the full journey to Uckfield. 205028 was one of the units I had seen comparatively little so it was good to get a further run onboard. It was unusual to take the train beyond East Croydon (and out of Travelcard territory) but this was a special occasion. Furthermore Southern who operated the service at the time had agreed to run the ECS from Uckfield to Selhurst in service to East Croydon (the earlier peak train was booked to return in service, but not the 18:12) in order to appease the enthusiasts, and get us home!

The run was noisy as ever on the crowded train- windows were wide open and heads were out (those 2-piece window bars never were very effective!). It was always fun riding this train, but it was fair to say this occasion was tinged with sadness knowing that we may never again fly down the mainline to the sound of two 4-SRKT English Electric diesel engines on non-corridor stock from a different railway era.

The interior of 205032 on the return 'special' to East Croydon.
Only enthusiasts remain on board but the train is still
reasonably busy- testament to the popularity of these trains,
and the fact we probably all crowded into the power car! It is
difficult to imagine traveling in a train looking like this today.
At Uckfield some enthusiasts climbed onto the front of the unit and adorned it with stickers of its old number, 1128- a practice that definitely wouldn't be permitted today, and in all likelihood probably wasn't in 2004 either! Many photos were taken of the train, possibly the last 6 car to reach Uckfield in normal service- I distinctly remember one chap with what can only be described as a floodlight taking his photos of 205032 on the London end of the train. To say that the driver was not amused would be an understatement. Maybe Southern had failed to inform him that this was the last run of the Thumpers. Certainly he was even less amused when the gathered enthusiasts informed him that he was taking us back to East Croydon in service. A few phone calls were made to control and much to his dismay he was indeed in service back to Croydon non-stop. Here a final photo call was made before the assembled enthusiasts with much jollity savored the final English Electric departure to the depot. That was the end of scheduled Thumpers on Southern and the end of non-corridor stock.

A final photo shoot with 205032 at East Croydon before the train headed off to Selhurst Depot. 24/09/2004

Fortunately the 'slammers' were still going strong at this point and the evening wasn't quite over with 'phase 1' 4-CIG 1704 being enjoyed to Clapham Junction. The Phase 1 units were always a particular joy to travel on with the additional headrests on the seats and some compartments even still featuring string luggage racks!

Phase 1 CIG 1704 at Clapham Junction with a Littlehampton - Victoria
service. 24/09/2005.
Of course this didn't quite turn out to be the final run for the Thumpers- several units were kept available to cover for unavailable Turbostars for several more weeks and I had one more ride with 205028 and 205032 in regular service less than a week later on 30th September- this pair covering the 17:10 while 205001 and 205009 worked the 18:12. That occasion however was to be my last mainline run besides the public farewell tour on 27th November 2004. It is hard looking back to think that it is now over a decade since the Thumper Farewell - certainly penning this article brings back some fond memories. Thankfully all bar one of the final Southern units were preserved, and with the exception of 205028 which lies out of use and damaged at Meldon Quarry all of the units in use that day can still be enjoyed in preservation.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Trying New Trains

There has been an influx of new trains to the UK rails recently. Over the past few days I've had the opportunity to check out some of the latest arrivals.

GWR class 800 (IEP)-
800008 'Sir Gareth Edwards' stands at Reading with a service for London Paddington. 13/04/2018
One of the most widely anticipated (if not controversial) new trains in the UK for a number of years are those of the Hitachi Intercity Express Programme (IEP). This fleet of trains will serve as the replacement for on the the UK's most iconic and successful trains of all time the InterCity125 HST along with other long distance train sets including the InterCity225 on the East Coast Main Line. The product of a Department for Transport specification and tender the trains have come under fire from the beginning by some of the operators who would use them, this is without mentioning the massively behind schedule and over budget scheme to electrify the Great Western Mainline.

My first IEP - 800013 standing on the blocks at Paddington. 13/04/2018
The first IEP's were constructed at Hitachi's Kasaido works in Japan with the bulk of the fleet to be assembled at a new plant at Newton Aycliffe. The first passenger run of a class 800 was in October 2017 between Bristol and London- despite some initial teething problems the trains have settled down into service on the GWR and are now being used in increasing numbers allowing the ageing HST fleet to be slowly stood down. The IEP has a lot to live up to and first impressions are of a sleek modern train which really doesn't look too bad at all. It is quickly apparent that the smart Great Western Railway livery is entirely applied with vinyls as a quick glance at doorways will easily reveal the white base colour where it has not been covered. The first trains to be delivered are 5 car class 800/0's which will run in pairs to replace an 8 + 2 HST formation. This means that catering facilities will be duplicated and both passengers and staff will be unable to walk between units. The trains for GWR are now all to be delivered as Bi-Modal since for cost reasons the complex section of electrification through Bath has now been postponed. Currently IEP's run on electric between London Paddington and Reading before switching to diesel for the journey forward. My journey was on board 800013 from Reading to Paddington, on electric traction so I cannot comment on any noise or vibration from the under-floor diesel engines.

Standard class on the class 800 IEP. 13/04/2018
The interior of the train is smart if not a little plain. Certainly the colours chosen are much brighter than the GWR HST fleet. Seating is a mix of tables for 4 and airline style seating all arranged in 2+2 format in Standard class. Power points and electric seat reservation displays are fitted throughout the train. The layout appears to be an improvement over the current HST seating arrangement (though the story may have been different had First Great Western not refurbished the HST's internally so badly in order to fit in extra seats!). This said there are still a number of seats which do not align with windows at all. As has been widely reported the seats are hard. The actual shape and size of the seats is not at all bad, but there is definitely no opportunity to sink into these seats on a long distance journey! I will not comment on the First Class interior as I did not get a chance to sample it on this short journey.

The journey from Reading to London is fast and unremarkable- perhaps as a new train should be!?

TFL Rail (to become Crossrail 'Elizabeth Line') class 345- 

345009 arrives into Romford with a Shenfield - London Liverpool St service for TfL Rail. An outgoing class 315 can be seen departing from the near platform. 14/04/2018

The majority of seating on the new 345's is longitudinal. 14/04/2018
Crossrail, the multi-billion project to build a new heavy-rail route under London, is almost upon us and will open completely in 2019. In preparation for the 'Elizabeth Line' as it will be branded the route from London Liverpool St to Shenfield has been transferred to Transport for London and will be branded 'TfL Rail'. Inheriting a fleet of ageing 1980's built class 315 EMU's this route has been first to see the new Crossrail trains, built by Bombardier and branded 'Aventra'. Built in Derby the fleet are initially being delivered in 7 car formation but will be extended to their full 9 coaches at a later date once infrastructure works are complete. Entering service in June 2017 between London and Shenfield the class 315's are now being displaced from the route.

Bays of facing seats are available in several areas. 14/04/2018
The first, and most noticeable feature of the class 345 is it's front- it is not yellow! For decades it has been compulsory for British main line stock to carry a yellow warning panel, however this rule has now been relaxed (the intensity of modern railway headlights deeming it unnecessary). The class 345 is the first train to appear without the warning panel and instead has a black front- it certainly takes some getting used to! The front end design differs significantly from artists impressions as it was amended by various stakeholders during the design phase of the cab. The AC EMU's feature 3 sets of doors per carriage for easy loading and full width gangways throughout for easy circulation through the interior space. As would be expected of any new train today the sets are fully air conditioned and are finished in a light and airy style with a purple moquette mirroring the 'Elizabeth Line' branding. Seating is a mix of longitudinal and 2+2 facing seating in some small areas. Grab rails and handles are provided in many locations for the large number of standees that these trains are expected to carry. On initially boarding 345015 at Liverpool Street the train was lightly loaded and appeared very spacious, however by Stratford a large number of passengers boarded and already all of the seats were taken (mid afternoon on a Saturday). The loss of seats when compared to the outgoing class 345's is significant with many passengers now required to stand for their journey that would have been seated before. The result is a claustrophobic feel to the train with any view out of the opposite window from the longitudinal seating blocked by people! As we have come to expect by now seat cushions were hard, but not uncomfortable.
By removing seats and adding grab-rails the standing
capacity of the class 345 is increased. 14/04/2018

Overall my view of the class 345 is a positive one, good news as a large number of 'Aventra's' have now been ordered by several other operators. It was however good to get back on a class 315 (never thought I'd say it) and at least be guaranteed a seat!

Class 345 trains are now testing on the Western part of the 'Elizabeth Line' to Reading and will being running through the Crossrail tunnels under central London from December 2018. Full Shenfield - Reading services will commence in 2019.